John Adams (HBO)
In an age when executives, politicians and even statesmen live their lives before cameras of all shapes and sizes, an age when the internet enables the latest rumor to swirl into blogs and newsletters, it is difficult to imagine a farmer removing his wig without fear of becoming a laughingstock. This is not to say that the age of John and Abigail Adams was without rumor or rancor. But it is to say that there were times when politics seemed more personal, and commitment to ideas and ideals seemed utterly believable. This lavish miniseries, the adaptation of David McCullough’s masterful biography, captures the hard life of colonial America. It also captures the grit of the central character, a man not always lovable, hardly ever charismatic, and usually stubborn regarding his own views to the point of national disruption. Adams is the lens through which we read the founding of the United States. His battles with Jefferson, his discomfort in the elegant courts of France, and his focus on his own view of the necessary steps toward a viable personal contribution and a legacy provide the drama here. His love of his wife and his children provides counterpoint to circumstances which may have forced his entry into public life. For exploring both public and private elements in the life of a truly great man, a Peabody Award goes to John Adams.
Executive producers: Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman. Co-executive producers: Kirk Ellis, Frank Doelger. Producers: David Coatsworth, Steven Shareshian. Director: Tom Hooper. Writers: Kirk Ellis, Michelle Ashford, based on the book by David McCullough. Actors: Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, Stephen Dillane, David Morse, Sarah Polley, Tom Wilkinson.